Asian Games Diary: Meet India's new swimming sensation

Dhinidhi Desinghu
Dhinidhi Desinghu with her parents.

Teenage swim sensation Dhinidhi Desinghu is the youngest to represent India in the ongoing 19th edition of the Asian Games in Hangzhou. The 13-year-old Dhinidhi, who started swimming as a leisure activity, has been making waves in the swimming circuit by breaking national records at will. The Bengaluru-based Dhinidi's mother Jesitha Vijayan hails from Puthiyangadi in Kozhikode while her father Desinghu is a native of Tamil Nadu. Jesitha is a former national-level kho kho player.

I met Dhinidhi and her parents at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Sports Arena, where swimming events are held. Though I had heard about the talented youngster when she qualified for the Asian Games, I was surprised to see that she would speak Malayalam fluently.

Dhinidhi was initiated into the aquatic world at the tender age of eight. In fact, she started swimming just for fun, to enjoy the water during her summer vacation. Her parents encouraged her to take up the sport seriously after they identified her talent and potential.

Dhinidhi has been at her best in the last couple of years as she set eight national records in the sub-junior, junior, and senior categories. At the national senior swimming championship, which served as the qualifiers for the Asian Games, she smashed the national record on her way to winning a sensational gold medal in the women's 200m freestyle event. Remarkably, she set the record with a timing of 2:04.24 after quelling the challenge of many senior swimmers in the country.   

In Hangzhou, Dhinidhi will be competing in the women’s 200m freestyle, 4x200 freestyle relay and 4x00 freestyle relay events.

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